Cassandra Duncan

Oyster Neighbourhoods

I recently completed my BSc degree in Animal Ecology and was awarded the Dean’s medal for academic achievement. Growing up in Hervey Bay, I developed a close connection with the ocean, a passion for wildlife, and a keen interest in marine ecology and conservation. I love field work, diving, and creating underwater videos, Oyster reefs used to cover large tracts of the seafloor of estuaries and bays along Australia’s east coast. For many decades these reefs supported a sizeable oyster industry but went into near-fatal decline during the first part of the last century.

Reefs restoration has now started in the Noosa Estuary, an innovative partnership between the University of the Sunshine Coast, the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation, Noosa Council, The Thomas Foundation, and the Noosa Parks Association.

I investigate how newly restored reefs create hotspots of ecological activity in their neighbourhoods. In more formal terms, I examine the footprint of predation and scavenging by fish in relation to the new reefs and how the broader mosaic of mangroves, sandflats, and seagrass beds can change the maps of these footprints throughout the estuary.

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